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Missouri Saying Little On Welfare Changes

September 24, 1996
By: Jennifer Horton
State Capital Bureau
The most sweeping changes in Missouri's welfare system in the last six decades take effect in four days. On October first, the welfare reform bill signed by President Clinton will hit Missouri, hard. But it seems no one knows exactly what to expect from the cuts or their effect on the local community. Jennifer Horton has the story.
Story:Jennifer Horton
OutCue: SOC
Missouri's state government must put the Federal Welfare Reform bill to work on Tuesday.

But Missouri's Director of Social Services, Gary Stangler is still wrestling with the details... days before the switch over.

Missouri government officials say they do know that yearly food stamp increases will be cut by an average of 12-dollars a month per family and there will be new regulations for welfare recipients to get jobs.

In addition, 12-thousand families lose fifty dollars every month in child-support benefits.

Earlier this month Stangler held a teleconference with the department's state employees to attempt to answer lingering questions.

Therese Kaiser, a representative for the Devision of Child Services, also spoke during the session.

She said Missouri's Department of Social Services still does not know what it will do with the bill.

Actuality:Therese Kaiser
OutCue: "about it" Contents: It's going to take more study before we know the exact cutoff points of the reform and more study politically before we know what Missouri wants to do about it.

Stangler said that Missouri's Social Services Department is finding it difficult to understand all the details of the Federal bill. Actuality:Gary Stangler
OutCue: "the bill"
Contents: We are having a number of disagreements with the Federal government over what the bill means and how we interpret that. There are even contradicting parts of the bill.

Local social service providers also say they're left guessing at what the cuts will mean... but they say they know for sure their clients will suffer.

Tim Rich is the director of the Salvation Army Harbor House and Soup Kitchen in Columbia.

He says his clients have no idea of the blow about to strike.

Actuality:Tim Rich
OutCue: "what they mean"
Contents: They are going to be absolutely blind sided and stunned. They will get a check and a notice about the cut and will have to come and ask me what it means.

Rich says he's already seeing a shift in the makeup of Salvation Army's population.

Services for Independent Living is another shelter in Columbia that helps low-income and homeless people with mental and physical disabilities.

The shelter's Executive Director Richard Blakely:

Actuality:Richard Blakely
OutCue: "hate surprises"
Contents: I'm aware the cuts are coming but I do not know any of the details. It will probably surprise a lot of folks and people hate surprises.

Blakely says people should know in advance about things that will effect their survival and it's up to the government to see they do.

But just days before the cuts take effect there's been little publicly said by Missouri's Welfare agency.

From Jefferson City, I'm Jennifer Horton